Here’s the Controversial Audio

Remember the “racist” kerfuffle, in which I was accused of excluding minority voices for saying at a conference, “We have a better version of the gospel than the regnant version in the West”?

Many of you asked for the audio of that talk so that you could decide for yourself whether I was being exclusionary, and whether my theology is, as the accompanying image screamed, for “Whites Only.”

Well, now you can listen to it:

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On Retiring a Sermon

Unlike a lot of you, I don’t have to prepare a sermon each week. In fact, I only have to prepare two or three a year. And I’ve usually got one that’s my go-to sermon. When I’m asked to preach on a particular topic or text, I prepare something original. When I’m not, I go to the go-to.

I realize this is a luxury. I’ve gotten to deliver this sermon in many venues over many months. I know the jokes that work. I don’t need to use notes. I have the scripture text memorized. I have completely internalized the message, and I am confident in its delivery.

The sermon I’ve been living with the last couple years is based on Mark 9:2-10, in which Jesus is transfigured. I think I found a particularly interesting exegetical hook, in that Mark records Peter’s odd statement — “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us build three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — and there is no response from Jesus. In fact, Mark records a rare omniscient narrator comment: “He said this because they were so afraid that they didn’t know what to say.”

The hook is that Peter expresses the very human desire to hang on to the intense spiritual moment that he was having — he wanted to institutionalize it, even if only for a few more moments. Even more interesting is that Jesus doesn’t respond. In fact, it’s the only time in all four Gospels in which Jesus doesn’t respond when directly spoken to.

This Sunday, I will give this sermon for the last time.

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I’m Tired of Being Called a Racist

Is posting this image race baiting?

Loyal readers will remember an incident from two years ago. I was speaking at Fuller Seminary — an academic institution, it should be noted. In my remarks, I spoke honestly about my view of Pentecostal theology, and how I do not think that it’s the best theology out there. [Video here.] An African-American woman in the crowd stood up and, at the end of a lengthy comment (that was more of a lecture), she called me a “borderline racist.”

Here’s her statement, as transcribed by me (you can see her comment at about 1:31:00 of the video):

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Jesus Hugging Dinosaurs: Talking to Kids about Science…at Church

You may have already seen the above test, given to 4th graders at Blue Ridge Christian Academy in Greenville, SC (as confirmed by Snopes, where you can also see the second page of the test and read the backstory). Yeah, that’s pretty bad.

On the other hand, you’ve got these three amazing teenage girls who won the 2011 Google Science Fair and gave a talk at TEDxWomen.

It is those two juxtaposed images of youth engaging science with which I’m going to start my talk tomorrow at Fuller Seminary’s conference, Talk of God, Talk of Science, which is described thusly:

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